A Louisiana man is now facing the possibility of six months behind bars for an alleged hate crime he committed against a 12-year-old boy. According to WAFB, 54-year-old Ronnie Barnes was involved in a verbal confrontation with the young boy at the Good To Go convenience store in Clinton, LA.
It has been reported that the July 25 incident is being classified as a hate crime because Barnes allegedly targeted the young boy. Since the boy, whose name has not been released, reportedly has dreadlocks, Barnes allegedly asked if he were a boy or girl. However, that’s not all. He even took things a step further by pulling the boy’s pants down.
According to Raw Story, Barnes was caught on surveillance cornering the boy who was visibly backed against a shelf. He allegedly called the boy the N-word and struck him in the head. Barnes was initially charged with simple battery, but after further investigation, the District Attorney’s Office decided to upgrade Barnes charge to a hate crime.
During a brief news interview, Det. Kevin Garig of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office released a statement in reference to the alleged crime Barnes committed. He also emphasized the difference between battery charges and hate crimes, in order to explain the charge Barnes is facing.
“The sheriff takes race issues very seriously, and if someone you know commits a crime against someone because of their color, because of their sexual orientation, because of any reason, then we are going to do our best to fully investigate it,” said Garig. “Someone merely saying that word in public, while it’s not appropriate, it’s not illegal,” Garig said.” Because a simple battery occurred and because it occurred because of racially motivated issues, that’s what makes it a hate crime,” he explained.
The victim’s mother has also spoken out about the ordeal. Needless to say, she’s devastated about Barnes’ actions toward her son. “I haven’t slept since. My son hasn’t been sleeping either,” she said. “We can’t even be safe in a store to pay for gas. It makes me afraid for all the black children in the community.”
On July 28, Barnes was arrested and charged with a hate crime. He has been booked into the East Feliciana Parish jail and has a bond set at $10,000.
[Image via WAFB Screen Capture]